The Most Important Thing You Can Know About Yourself
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Cindie Chavez ©2019
“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but … life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” ― Gabriel García Márquez
The Spring Solstice ushers in what astrologers refer to as “Aries Season” – (if your sun sign is Aries your birthday falls in this season). Aries season is the perfect time for reinvention, and nature makes that obvious to us by turning over her own new leaves and springing forth with a fresh identity, the world born anew in a splash of blossoms and birdsong.
This is the time of year when my own sense of identity wants to turn over a new leaf as well – encouraged by the knowing that the way one experiences life is directly related to one’s sense of self.
The Power of Ancient Wisdom
The Ancient Greek aphorism “know thyself” was inscribed in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and this forceful fragment of ancient wisdom is an essential bit of advice if we are to be true to our self.
One of my favorite stories emphasizing the importance of being true to self is the following story about Rabbi Zusya of Hanapol, told by Professor Martin Buber:
Once, the Hassidic rabbi Zusya came to his followers with tears in his eyes. They asked him:
“Zusya, what’s the matter?
And he told them about his vision; “I learned the question that the angels will one day ask me about my life.”
The followers were puzzled. “Zusya, you are pious. You are scholarly and humble. You have helped so many of us. What question about your life could be so terrifying that you would be frightened to answer it?”
Zusya replied; “I have learned that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you a Moses, leading your people out of slavery?’ and that the angels will not ask me, ‘Why weren’t you a Joshua, leading your people into the promised land?”‘
Zusya sighed; “They will say to me, ‘Zusya, why weren’t you Zusya?'”
There is only one of you. And it is your honor and privilege to live your life to its fullest potential – your unique potential.
The Value of Your Lived Experience
One way you can be sure that you are living your best life is to know your core values, and honor them.
If you don’t know your core values, you’re missing out on a huge amount of essential information about yourself that will help you make decisions, have more fun, experience more peace and joy, and live to your fullest potential.
No doubt the first thing many of us do these days when we want information is to rush on over to visit Google. And as expected, google will readily serve up plenty of long lists of potential core values – but looking at a list of 250 to 500 (or even 1000!) potential core values is definitely not my preferred way to find this information – it can be overwhelming and confusing to stare down a huge list of values, most of which aren’t going to be my own. Finding my top five core values in a list of hundreds can be like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.
For me (and for the work I do with clients) the better way is to choose the more personal and intimate route of inquiry. At first glance this might seem more difficult and possibly more time consuming (because Google seems so quick and easy), but in my experience this is actually the simpler and more direct way to go. Instead of looking at a world map to find your address, you are looking at your own house and discovering the numbers written over the door.
The questions to ask yourself are about your recent experiences – what have you experienced lately that delighted you? Energized you? Left you feeling wonderful? Put a smile on your face?
And what have you experienced that annoyed you, bored you, drained you, and left you feeling less than wonderful?
These questions are important because we are working from the premise feeling emotions or feelings that are uncomfortable or painful is the direct result of having needs that aren’t being met. Likewise, when we feel comfortable, or pleasurable feelings, it is because our needs are being met.
Beyond the basic human needs that we all have (food, shelter, air, water, sex) there are many other human needs, such as the need for community, contribution, respect, beauty, freedom, celebration, ritual, connection, solitude, quietude, peace, safety – the list goes on and on. Some of these will be more important to you than others, since we are all unique. And these human needs will be related to your values – the most important of those values are what we call your core values.
The Beauty of the Being Honest
As an example, I only have to ask myself what has brought me delight recently to recognize two of my top core values – beauty and creativity, evidenced by my recent delight over a day spent painting.
I used to be afraid to admit that beauty was a core value of mine, because I worried that it would sound vain, or shallow – that the first thing that would come to mind would be makeup and nail polish (and no judgement there either, I love them both wildly, as evidenced by my vast collection of every imaginable glittery shade). I worried that by confessing beauty as my top core value that some would mistake my love of beauty for conceit, or think that my value was centered on my own beauty or pursuit of it. But the truth is that I have a need for beauty – for the revelation of art, the wonder of music, the glory of a garden or at least a vase full of fresh flowers, the magic of color, the language of poetry that somehow is at once obscure and yet able to spell so clearly things that only the heart understands. Being honest about my core values allowed me to find new ways to honor them, and doing so has brought about a level of fulfillment that would have otherwise been impossible.
I absolutely love coaching, but I would be completely miserable wearing a drab uniform and coaching from a stark office cubicle all day.
On the other hand, put me somewhere where I’m surrounded with color, and nature, and beauty and I’m good to go. My office is full of beautiful things and has a window looking out at a bird feeder and a gorgeous group of trees. The simple act of gazing out my office window to enjoy a bright red cardinal at the bird feeder honors one of my core values.
Another of my core values is ritual, along with magic. When considered along with beauty it makes perfect sense that reading tarot cards feels very fulfilling to me. On the other hand, spending days on end without magic or ritual always brings me to a place of feeling out of sorts and ungrounded, like I’m missing something important.
If you want a fast track to feeling better, find your top five core values and find creative ways to honor them. Learn to say yes to opportunities that align with those values and no to those that don’t.
If you’re uncertain about what your core values are consider hiring a coach. I’d love to help you discover your core values and support you in creating a plan to honor them.
More by Cindie:
Cindie Chavez is known as “The Love & Magic Coach”. She is the creator of MOONTREAT™ – and she has some great free stuff for you at her website: www.cindiechavez.com
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